Rugby World Cup: All Blacks captain Sam Cane stunned by 'overwhelming' support from Kiwis after final red card

All Blacks captain Sam Cane admits he's been 'pleasantly surprised' by the outpouring of support from the NZ public in the wake of his disastrous World Cup final.

Cane became the first player in final history to receive a red card on Sunday, after his high shot on Springboks midfielder Jesse Kriel that reduced the All Blacks to 14-men for the majority of the match, as they fell to a 12-11 defeat to South Africa in Paris.

Fresh off a long flight from Europe, Cane confesses he's still coming to terms with the incident, but the massive amount of love he's felt from Aotearoa has had a huge impact on his healing process.

While he describes the overall level of backing – even from afar – as the best he's seen as an All Black, it's been the amount of backing he's received personally that has left him humbled and even slightly stunned.

Sam Cane.
Sam Cane. Photo credit: Getty Images

Cane suggests he expected to become public enemy No. 1 after what took place in the final. But in fact, the opposite has been true.

"The support is something I haven't experienced as an All Blacks," Cane said. "It’s the best I've found and that's from halfway around the world.

"I said before the final it's been overwhelming. And put it this way – I've been pleasantly surprised with the support post the final too.

"I felt like I let a lot of people down and feeling that support has certainly helped.

"On a personal level, I appreciate all the support and the kind words. It means a heck of a lot."

Since Sunday's final at Stade de France, the flanker says he's been consciously surrounding himself with teammates to avoid spending time alone, when he says the bad memories tend to come flooding back.

But it was a sage piece of advice from his mum that's helped provide the most perspective during such a trying time.

"My Mum actually said to me if it was my boy who'd been in this situation, how would you want him to feel and you wouldn’t want him to beat himself up, so trying not to be too hard on myself."

Quality time with whānau  and a return to some semblance of normality will now become Cane's primary focus, after a mammoth and hugely demanding three months abroad.

Essentially - anything but rugby.

"Just looking forward to having that first week at home and getting back to doing some normal things," he said.

"I'll look get over to the Mount and see my grandparents. I've got a new niece that I haven't met yet down in New Plymouth. So I'll do a little trip around and spend some family time."